Prescription for sanity? Read your local newspaper


Yes, these things are still available, and worth your time.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been getting my news almost exclusively from two local newspapers, the daily Arizona Republic and the weekly Phoenix Business Journal. I’m talking about the print editions, not online, and I’m talking about going through each section, page by page, to at least skim the headlines and see what’s happening.

No Fox News. No MSNBC. No CNN. No Wall Street Journal. No New York Times. Just the Arizona Republic and the Business Journal. (And sometimes the 10 o’clock news, for what that’s worth.) I’ve missed reading two of the nation’s best newspapers, but no matter. I’ve been reading the Republic and the Business Journal – and only the Republic and the Business Journal – as an experiment.

It’s one of the saner choices I’ve made lately. Here’s why:

  • By reading the paper, I’m forced to read about things I don’t normally follow. This is a broadening experience.
  • It helps me avoid being force fed the narrow range of topics spewing forth from the cable news/opinion networks. By reading the newspaper, I’m exposed to the criticisms being made of Boehner and Obama, the Senate and the House, the NSA, and on and on, but I’m not bludgeoned with them. I also get to see that there are lots of interesting developments in business, science, the arts, religion and other fields that just get blown off by most media these days.
  • I’m getting detail, not just a quick headline followed by lots of commentary.
  • I’m getting real journalism done by real journalists. Some people will quarrel with this, but I believe the Associated Press, Reuters, and local news reporters still try hard not to grind an ax or push a point of view. This is a refreshing change from so much of today’s “journalism,” which starts with a premise and musters factoids to support it.
  • I’m much more in touch with my local community, learning about everything from local government mismanagement to cool, exciting new businesses that are opening.
  • I don’t always see eye to eye with the editorials, but at least they rise above the “my enemies are stupid, they should go pound sand” approach of the cable networks.
  • I’ve slowed down enough to be able to think and ask a few questions about what I’ve read. Less emotion, more thought. Isn’t that what getting involved with the news should be about?
  • I’m also taking time for breakfast while I read, which is a healthy development!

I doubt that I’ll start a counterrevolution, and I’m sure I’ll start reading the Journal and the Times again. I recommend my course of action to you, however. Try reading only your local papers for two months. You’ll find it refreshing. Are you game?

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